European Youth Championships 2019

In august 2019 we were able to send 3 teams funded to the European Youth MTB Championships in Pila.

We are very grateful for all money raised to allow these young people to experience European Racing.

They have each written a report from their experience. Well done to you all.

Report 1

We are an under 14s team from Scotland that travelled to the European Champs in Pila with support from Ride for Charlie. It was an amazing experience and we learnt so much from it.

The first race was the Time Trial and we were all quite nervous as we knew that our results from the Time Trial would grid us for all the other races. The time trial course was about 2 minutes long and featured drop offs, grassy corners, a tricky chute and then a final sprint back up to the start line. We managed to get a team gridding of 32nd which we were really pleased about. 

Emily was the only Scottish rider to qualify for the Eliminator as only the top 16 girls and 32 boys qualified. We were so pleased for her.

The next day was the team relay and Reuben was going off first, then Paddy, then Emily. We were amazed at the number of racers on the start line, even with only 1 rider from each team. They also had this unnerving heartbeat playing just before the start which got you more nervous! Our team finished 19th which we were so pleased with.

The next day was the Eliminator and because not many of us had got into it we went up together to support Emily and watch the races. It was great being able to support each other in all the races. The Eliminator was really exciting to watch and there isn’t anything at home which is like it. Emily did well to win her first heat and get through to the next round but despite her best efforts couldn’t make it all the way to the final. 

Finally, it was Saturday and time for the big race: the XCO. The atmosphere was unbelievable as we were going up to the start and on the line, it felt nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time. 

Overall, it was one of the best experiences of our lives and it was all thanks to Ride for Charlie. We can all definitely say that being part of a Ride for Charlie team gave us motivation during some of the tough races because it felt like you were riding for a cause as well as for fun. 

Report 2

RIDE FOR CHARLIE/SCOZZIA (Elena McGorum, Callum Thornley and Corran Carrick-Anderson)

We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be racing at the European Youth Championships once again. After a very humbling experience the previous year, when we all had struggled with altitude and heat exhaustion, we decided we were going to be wiser this year. We had all trained hard over the winter and had been rewarded with some excellent performances in the XC season. However, our final competition and the pinnacle and utmost goal of all our training was still to come, this was racing for Ride for Charlie at the European Youth Champs at Pila.

When we arrived at the event village, we were initially a bit intimidated by the hundreds of European riders. Everyone looked so professional! But instead of letting this worry us we focused on course practice and preparation for the races to come.

Our first race was the individual TT. This was a short, explosive race, but really important as it would determine the gridding for both the team relay (by adding the times of all the riders in the team) and the XCO. The TT course was quite technical, and the rain made it really slippery and much harder. During the boy’s TT, the conditions deteriorated even more which made it impossible to get a good gridding. Even with these difficult conditions we did well to be gridded 25th out of 102 teams.

The next race was the team relay. After a great starting lap by Callum, Elena managed a steady ride and followed by Corran’s super-fast lap we finished in 17th place, which was a good improvement from last year’s 23rd.

The day of our last race, the XCO, was one of the hottest days we had experienced in Pila with temperatures in the high 20s. The umbrellas (used as parasols) and wet towels made their appearance. Elena finished in 32rd out of 103 girls, thrilled to improve her position from last year’s XCO by over 30 places, even when, by pushing too hard at the start of her last lap she went into the red and lost a few positions (due to silly mistakes and a couple of minor crashes). Callum had been gridded 85th, so he started on the 10th row. After a brilliant first lap where he got up to 35th, he hit a wall and his plan of having a big first lap, then ease up and pick off more riders didn’t materialize. However, he pushed on through the pain to finish the race 79th and just happy to finish! Corran, who hadn’t had a good gridding either due to the weather conditions in his TT, finished in an amazing 15th place out of over 200 riders after starting at 51st. By using what he had learnt in two previous European races he competed at last June, with support from Ride for Charlie, he controlled his pace and moved steadily up through the field to get the best position he could.

We left Pila with smiles in our faces, knowing we had given everything we had. We made many new friends and accumulated life lasting memories. We are really grateful to Ride for Charlie for the generous funding that allowed us to be part of this amazing European experience.

Report 3

 We absolutely loved racing at Pila this year which was all made possible by RideForCharlie.- heres a patchwork account of our racing week, each bit taken from a different point of view. 

Day 1 Getting there (Chris Hilbert) 

After a long few days driving, we arrived at the accommodation in Pila on the Sunday, I rode up to the main event car park to have a look around and it was like nothing I had ever seen before; it was so organised and there were so many teams. I met with Ben when he arrived and then us and the other riders from East Midlands went to have a team briefing, we worked out a plan for the next day and then went to bed. 

Day 2 Practice (Chris Hilbert) 

After a good night’s sleep Ben, Lotta and I met at the event arena and headed out to practice the course. The course was both physically and technically challenging and the altitude played havoc with my heart rate. We then went to practice the time trial course in preparation for the next days race. This was a fun and fast track around 2 minutes long with a challenging left hand corner that was catching a lot of people out. We practiced lines on this and eventually got it and that was course practice finished for the day. 

Day 3 TT (Ben Chilton) 

The TTs started at 9:30 with the u15 women and ran on until the u17 men at 3:00, there were over 200 u17 men and so it wasn’t until 4:16 when I set off in which time the rain hand started falling the mist had come in obscuring the racers views, the Scottish RideForCharlie team had already finished and so passed on that the corners were crazy slippy and we should take it a little easy. I got a clean start with no mechanicals like last year where I snapped my chain and had to run the entire lap. The corners where un-rideable at race speed I got through the technical part with only a short stall and pushed to the line. Everyone was frustrated with their rides as the goals they had set were unattainable with the weather condition. That evening there was a huge debrief after which i got to sleep with a little reassurance that I wasn’t out of place as in the top 32 there were only 5 riders who had less than ideal conditions. 

Day 4 XCR (Lotta Mansfield) 

I went off second in the TTT on the Wednesday after a good start from Chris, I rode hard to try and limit places being dropped to try and get the best position. I handed on to Ben with nothing left and happy with my effort. We came 52nd and 2 places higher than our starting place so we were happy with that!! 

Day 5 XCE (Ben Chilton) 

To qualify for the XCE you had to place in the top 32 in your category for men and top 16 for women, out of the whole of the UK only 2 rider qualified, Max Greensill and Emily Carrick-Anderson. As a team we wanted to cheer on our fellow country riders and so rode up, there was quite a lot of it as Max Greensill progressed to the finals and had a poor start but didn’t give up and made one of the best come backs ever and ended up winning the sprint. We exited the crazy mosh pit surrounding the newly crowded XCE euro champion and started the ride to the top of the downhill. At the top there was the little matter of collecting my GCSE results which were what I wanted and made the descent even more special, although maybe super stiff XC bikes weren’t the best for black downhill runs. We stopped at half way down refuelled and shared the news with the rest of the family, then continued down the DH run on which i decided it might be cool to see what a Sam hill black DH run would be like on 100mm worth of XC travel, by the bottom my brakes were completely cooked and arms and fingers severely shaken but i knew it was completely worth it. 

Day 7 XC (Lotta Mansfield) 

For the XC I was quite far down the grid so had lots of hold ups with traffic on the first lap. On the start I got my caught behind lots of crashes which meant I didn’t make up as many places as I had hoped for. During the race, I really tried to attack on the climbs and recover the best I could on the descents. I was happy to have ridden all the A lines without crashing! It was really hard around the arena and out of the woods due to the heat! I eventually came 68th after leaving everything I had out on the track. I really enjoyed racing in the huge field and riding a course that was so different to anything we get to race on back in the UK 

This was a fantastic experience and we can’t thank rideforcharlie enough for the support to help it happen.